After a lengthy break, the Boston Bruins (29-10-12, 70 points) return to action tonight when they visit the Winnipeg Jets (25-22-4, 54 points). It is the second and final meeting between the teams this season. The Bruins took a 5-4 decision over the Jets on January 9th at TD Garden.
Puck drop is at 8:00 pm on NESN and 98.5 The Sports Hub.
Return Of The Rask
Tuukka Rask will return to the lineup for the Bruins. Injured on January 14th in Columbus, Rask is now back on the Bruins active roster and will start in Winnipeg tonight. Rask looked and felt good ahead of the back-to-back slate in Winnipeg and Minnesota tonight and tomorrow.
“Tuukka’s looking great,” Bruce Cassidy told the club’s official website. “League-wise, no issues there at all…I want to confirm with Tuukka after practice [Thursday]. It’s really his first high-stress practice. Barring anything, waking up tomorrow, he’ll probably be our starter tomorrow. If not, he’s definitely going to play on Saturday.”
For Rask, although it hasn’t been a lengthy amount of time, it’s been a tough road back. He dealt with the harsh conditions and effects of a concussion after his run in with Emil Bemstrom of the Blue Jackets.
“I had motion sickness, very bad motion sickness for the first two days,” Rask said following Thursday’s practice at Warrior Ice Arena. “That was different. My headaches were not too bad. But sat in the car and then just started walking and [things were] kind of spinning a little bit. That was different.”
Unfortunately for Rask, this isn’t the first time he has dealt with a concussion. The veteran suffered one last January after a collision with Filip Chytil of the New York Rangers.
“Pretty similar. They’re all different, but as far as the symptoms and timeline, I think it’s pretty much the same,” said Rask. “I didn’t have to, like, sit in a dark room for many days in a row. I was able to live my life for the most part right after, so that was good.”
Rask, Cassidy and Bruins fans everywhere will be happy to see the Finnish netminder back in action this weekend.
The Bruins have just 31 games remaining in their regular season schedule. The stretch drive is officially on. Boston currently has a nine-point cushion on Toronto, the ninth-place team in the east. In terms of making the playoffs for the fourth straight season, the Bruins appear to be in great shape.
Although that might be the case, the Bruins are not content entering the final stretch of the season.
“I think our mindset coming off this break has to be the same,” said Rask. “We don’t feel comfortable. Obviously we’ve got enough points so far that we’re in a good spot standing-wise, but we’re not going to feel comfortable taking nights off because everybody knows you have to find that groove going into the playoffs and feel good, feel like your game is in a good spot team-wise when you go into the playoffs.”
Patrice Bergeron, who has also been around the block and seen it all, agreed with his goalie.
“It’s always nice to be able to recharge the batteries and be ready for the last stretch, obviously the most important one,” Bergeron told reporters. “It was nice to spend some time with the family. Now we’re back in it…there’s 30 games left. It is good timing as far as recovering from the fatigue and all that. Look forward to the last stretch and ending the season on the right note.”
The Bruins dive right back into it, playing three games in five days off the top of the break. That is including this weekend’s back-to-back set.
Boston Bruins Lines
Brad Marchand – Patrice Bergeron – David Pastrnak
Danton Heinen – David Krejci – Karson Kuhlman
Jake DeBrusk – Charlie Coyle – Anders Bjork
Joakim Nordstrom – Sean Kuraly – Chris Wagner
Zdeno Chara – Charlie McAvoy
Torey Krug – Brandon Carlo
Jeremy Lauzon – Matt Grzelcyk
Bruins lines are subject to change and based off of practice on Thursday. Anton Blidh and Par Lindholm are the expected healthy scratches up front, while John Moore will sit on the blue line. Connor Clifton and Kevan Miller remain on injured reserve, although Clifton skated on his own on Thursday. Rask is the expected starter for the Bruins, per Cassidy.
Winnipeg Jets Lines
Kyle Connor – Mark Scheifele – Patrik Laine
Nikolaj Ehlers – Blake Wheeler – Jack Roslovic
Mathieu Perreault – Andrew Copp – Mason Appleton
Gabriel Bourque – Jansen Harkins – Kristian Vesalainen
Josh Morrissey – Neal Pionk
Luca Sbisa – Dmitry Kulikov
Anthony Bitetto – Sami Niku
Jets lines are subject to change. Ken Wiebe reports that Brossoit will get the start tonight. Like the Bruins, the Jets are opening a back-to-back set. They’ll play divisional rival St. Louis tomorrow night. Dustin Byfuglien is still away from the team, with no timetable for a potential return to hockey. Nathan Beaulieu (lower-body) will not play tonight. He could return tomorrow.
Tucker Poolman (lower-body), Adam Lowry and Bryan Little (ear) are all on IR and will not play. Little is still likely a few weeks away from a return.